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Veteran’s Improved Pension Benefits
By Gary Case

Published in the Idaho Press Tribune Dec 31, 2010

Somewhat overlooked by many veterans are three benefits that fall under the moniker of “Improved Pension Benefits” that qualifying veterans may seek. Speak with a qualified Veteran’s Service Officer prior to applying these benefits. While it may take several months to receive approval, benefits are payable as of the date of application.

Even if you are currently receiving compensation from the VA, you may still be eligible for Basic, Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. Once a veteran reaches the age of 65, the VA classifies them permanently and totally disabled regardless of their physical fitness (this is the Basic benefit). To qualify for the Housebound benefit, the applicant is not as limited in their need for assistance as someone meeting the needs for Aid & Attendance, but still requires help with daily living activities and be essentially housebound.

The Aid and Attendance Pension (A&A) provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist them with at least some activities of daily living. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisting living facility also qualifies.

To qualify for A&A it needs to be established by your physician that you require daily assistance by others to perform some or all of the following: dress, undress, bathe, cook, eat, toilet, take on or off of prosthetics, leave home etc. There simply needs to be adequate medical evidence that you cannot function completely on your own. Any War-Time Veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of War, is eligible to apply for the benefit. A surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a War-Time Veteran may also apply. The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially.

 

 

 

To qualify medically, a War-Time Veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, taking care of the needs of nature, etc. Being blind or in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity, or residing in an assisted living facility also qualifies. To qualify financially, an applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, EXCLUDING their home and vehicles. For 2010, the A&A Pension can provide up to $1,632 per month to a veteran, $1,055 per month to a surviving spouse, or $1,949 per month to a couple.

Note, the application process is daunting, so don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. There are several marketing organizations who will help you apply for a fee. Some fees are MUCH higher than others, so shop carefully or check with your financial advisor for assistance in applying. More information is available at www.veteranaid.org.

 


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